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Ho Chi Minh City is a unique blend of the ancient and modern. Incense-scented temples and colonial structures lie nestled alongside sleek, towering skyscrapers, giving the city a distinct skyline and feel. Formerly known as Saigon, the city's architecture offers poignant reminders of its French-colonial past and the tumultuous legacy of the Vietnam War is still felt at places like the Reunification Palace and Cu Chi tunnels. But that's not to say Ho Chi Minh City is stuck in the past. This contemporary city is full of new and fascinating things just waiting to be uncovered.
Ho Chi Minh City is divided into several urban districts, no two of which are alike. From Buddhist temples to modern skyscrapers, the city and its surrounding area are full of unique things and places to discover.
District 1 - The center of business and administration in the city, District 1 is also home to many historic landmarks and contemporary attractions. The area encompasses sights like the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica, Reunification Palace, and the famous Rex Hotel. At the center of it all, the Bitexco Financial Tower-once the tallest building in Vietnam and currently the tallest in Ho Chi Minh City-helps to define the city's ever-evolving skyline.
Mekong Delta - Outside the city, the Mekong Delta is a network of distributaries fed by the Mekong River. Lauded as a biological treasure trove, the area is rich with wild nature, agriculture, and rural culture that's worth a day of exploring. Towns like My Tho and Ben Tre offer opportunities to escape the bustle of the big city and dive into local life.
Cholon - With a history dating back to 1778, Cholon is the largest Chinatown in Vietnam. With the Binh Tay Market at its center, the area features ornate Chinese architecture and an authentic, local atmosphere. Cholon is home to the Thien Hau Temple, an extravagant temple dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu, as well as the Quan Am Pagoda, a Buddhist pagoda dedicated to the goddess Guanyin.
Ho Chi Minh City is filled with historic monuments and elegant remnants of its past, its city center still lined with wide boulevards and French colonial buildings. Visit the landmark of Reunification Palace, formerly known as Independence Palace, which endured both French colonization and the Vietnam War and now functions as a historic museum. The city is home to a number of museums, including the Gia Long Palace or Ho Chi Minh City Museum, Museum of Vietnamese History, and the fascinating War Remnants Museum where relics from the Vietnam War and first Indochina War are on display. Take in Ho Chi Minh City's art scene by visiting the Museum of Fine Arts or catching modern acrobatic spectacles like the A O Show Saigon.
All kinds of adventures await in Ho Chi Minh City, from exploring the city's fascinating history to diving into its vibrant cuisine. Architecture lovers can spend their days strolling between the brick bell towers of the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, the grand facade of the Municipal Theatre (also called the Saigon Opera House), and the Hotel Majestic, built in a classical French Riviera style. History buffs can head underground at the Cu Chi tunnels to get a glimpse into the lives of Vietnamese soldiers during the Vietnam War. Families can wave hello to the animals at the Saigon Zoo and Botanical Gardens, and then check out the thrills and attractions at the Suoi Tien Amusement Park, whose themed areas are based on Vietnamese legends and history. And if all you want is a day at the beach, nearby Vung Tau and Long Hai offer sun, surf, and sand just a short ride away.
Vacationing in Ho Chi Minh City on a budget? The following can be experienced for zip.
HCMC Museum - See if there are any special exhibits, displays or tours on at this interesting museum.
Ho Chi Minh City National University - Drop by this local landmark and admire its unique design.
Saigon South - This thriving area is a popular rendezvous point for locals and visitors alike.
Australian Consulate General - Well known among local residents, this site is worth visiting.
Saigon Central Mosque - Take some time for a bit of meditation or prayer at this respected religious site.
30-4 Park - Nurture your green thumb and appreciate the beautiful and diverse plants on show.
Make the most of the great weather (and get some fresh air as well) with some of these top activities:
Make the most of a rainy day by trying out some indoor activities, like a Cao Dai Temple and Cu Chi Tunnels Full Day Group Tour or a Private Half-Day Ao Dai Museum Tour.
You could leave your wallet in the hotel safe for the day, because these fabulous attractions won't cost you a dime: